Thanks to archeological digs and advances in technology, we’ve learned an incredible amount about our history over the past few centuries. We’ve found ancient ancient tombs. We’ve discovered treasures. We’ve gotten a great idea of what life was like in certain times and places for those who came before us, but we still haven’t even come close to discovering everything, as a recent incredible find in Mexico attests to.
According to Reuters, a professor named Ivan Sprajc and a team of archeologists were reviewing aerial photographs taken more than a decade ago in a region of the Mexican rain forest in the Yucatan when they noticed signs that led them to believe ruins could be present. The group figured out the exact coordinates, and after gaining approval from the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History, they made their way into the jungle and promptly discovered an incredible, previously unmapped Maya city in the exact location they’d marked off.
It’ll take years, maybe even a decade to understand every little detail about the city they’ve dubbed Chactun, or “Red Rock”, but in the initial six weeks of mapping, the team has already made incredible inroads. They hypothesize as many as 30,000 to 40,000 Maya men, women and children once loved there, likely during its peak between 600 and 900 AD. It’s unknown how many total structures the area might contain, but there are at least fifteen pyramids, two ball courts and a large plaza, all of which are indicative of a very large city during the aforementioned time.
At some point, Chactun was abandoned by its inhabitants, likely around the year 1000 AD. Maybe the residents fled because of war or climate change or internal rebellions. Maybe they fled because of a combination of those three and/ or more reasons, but all involved are hoping the grounds will eventually yield clues on not only that topic but also why other Maya cities may have been abandoned around the same time.
The work of an archeologist can be incredibly tedious and boring at times. Even a skilled professional can go years or even months without finding something that’s particularly newsworthy, but one would imagine discoveries like this make the entire drawn out and isolated process more than worth all the time and energy spent.
The entrance to the city has been sealed for the time being, and the team will return shortly in order to continue digging and looking for smaller items. Because of the thicker brush of rain forest around the site, it’s not particularly easy to get in and out, but given the renewed funds the team will likely get to complete their work, the cost of travel shouldn’t be a very big concern from here on out.